The French language has never been more appealing. The number of French speakers is constantly increasing, whether it be those for whom it is their mother or father’s native language or learners who are interested in the language of Molière, St Exupéry or more recently… Marc Lévy!
State of play
French is one of the fastest growing languages: +143% anticipated between 2015 and 2065 (+62% for English) according to the UN. By 2065, a billion people should be speaking French, that is 5 times more than in 1960. French is in 2nd place for international languages after English.*
Today, French is:
– the 2nd most learned language in the world, with more than 125 million students and about 900 000 French teachers abroad,
– the 2nd international language for information in the media,
– the 3rd language in the business world,
– one of the official or working languages in many international organizations: IOC (International Olympic Committee), UNESCO, NATO, Council of Europe, OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), FIFA (International Federation of Football Associations), UN (United Nations), WHO (World Health Organization), and non-governmental organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, Lawyers Without Borders, Doctors of the World…
Moreover, the French language can boast of being, with English, the only languages that are spoken on five continents as an official or recognized language:
. In Europe (France, Belgium, Switzerland, Monaco, Romania…)
. In Africa (DR Congo, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cameroon, Senegal…)
. In North America (the Province of Quebec in Canada, Haiti)
. In Central and South America (Guyana, Saint Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique…)
. In Oceania (Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Polynesia …).
French VS English: 1-0
With Brexit and the exit of the UK from the European Union scheduled for 29th March 2019, students appear to be more cautious about studying the language of Shakespeare. It is possible that Brexit will mean more stringent entry formalities, even though this topic remains unsubstantiated. Moreover, this divorce with its historic allies could appear to be a mark of indifference and might be poorly perceived by
some European countries, hence a temporary loss of affection (see this article published in Le Monde in 2017)… Although there are no statistics on this subject, England was always by far the preferred destination to learn English, particularly for Europeans. Let’s take a bet that some foreign students may turn away and become more interested in learning French, there’s just one step to take!
The ‘Macron’ Influence
On the World Francophone Day on the 20 March 2018 the French President, Emmanuel Macron, officially launched a « grand master plan ». It aims to promote the French language and multilingualism, which aims to make French the first language of Africa and “maybe” of the world. Among the measures and objectives set he referred in particular to the following:
– to double the number of students in French Lycées abroad (currently near to 350 000 students in 500 institutions across the world),
– to double the number of foreign students in France from emerging countries,
– to improve access to the French language for refugees in France by proposing 400 hours of free tuition instead of the current 250 hours.
In conclusion you now have some good reasons for starting or continuing to learn French (and SILC is here to help you!).
*Source: VOA Africa